Recently a dude busted out the beautifully old-school “I’m just stretching my arm, oh look, my hand is on your shoulder now” move on yours truly.
It worked beautifully.
While he may have had other goals in mind, that fact that I didn’t just wriggle free like the cat in the Pepe Lepew cartoons can be considered a success.
After reviewing the events that preceded the move (beer, house tour, 1970s Pam Grier flick), it could be said I am an idiot because I didn’t see it coming.
In fact, the “Oh, I just happen to be watching this fabulous movie you’ve never seen” move has worked so many times, I’m beginning to suspect a flier has gone out around town entitled, “Putting on the Fritz.”
But I don’t think the arm-stretching move has ever been employed on me, not even in middle school when it was standard operating procedure for kids who were allowed to go to movies unchaperoned.
Sadly, I was not one of those kids, so when I finally discovered a hand on my shoulder many, many years after it should be old hat, it seemed a fresh move.
But as Ms. Grier kicked off one sexy vigilante mission after the next, luring drug dealers in using dirty talk and her hefty, uh, assets before taking those jive fools out with a shotgun, I realized our ideas about dating, how it’s done and who does what when, have changed so drastically that a slow-burnin’ classic mack is going to throw a girl off.
In middle school, I was obsessed with British literature, the Talking Heads and a skateboarder named Ben. After months of sitting in class near him and walking home together, he sent a note asking me “out” and I sent a note back with the box marked “yes.”
Then we’d stare at each other from our respective spots in the lunchroom, and I believe we held hands once. It’s funny we called it “going out,” since Ben and I were literally never going to go anywhere except home and school.
Three days into the relationship, he decided he was in love with my friend Jody. This was also communicated by note. However, this time there were no boxes to concur or lodge a complaint.
I grieved for at least a half hour and then “went out” with a kid named Bryan. Bryan wanted to hold hands almost immediately, and said so up front — without a note. It felt downright scandalous.
Bryan kicked off the metamorphosis of my dating experience, but back then, I figured by the time I hit 22, I’d have three kids and drive a flying car. By that time, I’d be well beyond the note-writing relationships.
But I was wrong, and instead have one cat and a pickup truck that only leaves the ground when I drive over the railroad tracks too fast.
I don’t get notes anymore, but if someone sent me one asking me to go out with him, I think I might be so stunned, curiosity would force my hand to mark the “yes” box. I’d wonder: Are we actually going to go somewhere, or are we staring at each other over the lunchroom and leaving it at that?
Over the years the notes somehow turned into calls and texts, and the lunchroom ogling turned to barroom flirting, and the hand holding turned into, well, you know what it turned into. Everything got cranked all the way up to 11, even the breakups.
And that’s cool; 11 is exciting, no doubt. But after the little “I’m just stretching my arm, oh look, my hand is on your shoulder now” move, I’m beginning to wonder if turning the dating back down to single digits might not be more interesting in the long haul.
At least none of my friends are named Jody, so that trouble’s out of the way.
Jeanine Fritz writes about the art of middle-school seduction every Friday in the Colorado Daily.